EDA: 8 municipalities get $50,000 grants in 21st Century Redevelopment Program

Atlantic City, Jersey City, Millville, Passaic, Pemberton Twp., Raritan borough, White Twp., Willingboro Twp. all approved for awards

Eight communities were approved for grants of $50,000 to help them create plans to redevelop, repurpose or regreen stranded assets, such as vacant and underutilized retail or office complexes, that have a major impact on local economic conditions, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority board announced Wednesday.

In other words, eight municipalities — Atlantic City, Jersey City, Millville, Passaic, Pemberton Township, Raritan borough, White Township and Willingboro Township — are getting help in their efforts to improve business in their towns.

About the program

The 21st Century Redevelopment Program was created in October 2018 as a response to the growing number of stranded assets in New Jersey communities, and their impact on their hosts. Business, demographic and economic trends resulted in several closures and long-term vacancies of large suburban office complexes and shopping malls. The Economic Development Authority paused the program in April 2020 as a result of the emergency COVID-19 prevention measures and reopened applications in May 2021.

The grants, which total $400,000, are the first awarded through the NJEDA’s 21st Century Redevelopment Program.

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the program can have real impact.

“COVID-19 ushered in a brand-new approach to the way we utilize space within our communities and downtowns,” he said. “The creative ideas that our awardees have for reinvigorating their stranded assets are reflective of this new mindset, and each one aligns with Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of emerging from the pandemic in a fair and equitable manner.”

Here is a look at the awards and how they will help the following communities strategically plan their redevelopment:

  • City of Atlantic City: Atlantic City, in conjunction with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will author a plan on the redevelopment of the Plaza Hotel Site, a 1980s-era casino resort and adjacent properties. The plan will work towards the creation of a development corridor that connects the Convention Center and a new retail development to the Boardwalk and the beach.
  • City of Jersey City: Jersey City will fund the redevelopment planning for a former bank building in the Journal Square Commercial District. The planning process will deliver a plan that includes a draft redevelopment plan, market feasibility analysis, retail market analysis, draft Owner Participation Agreement/Owner Participation Rules, final redevelopment plan and draft ordinances to adopt the redevelopment plan. The goal of repurposing the property is to maximize economic growth in distressed neighborhoods.
  • City of Millville: Millville will utilize 21st Century Redevelopment Grant funds to develop a plan and roadmap for assessing and addressing the distressed retail and commercial assets in the Glasstown Arts District. The distressed assets have both hindered efforts to grow creative economy jobs and impacted local ratables for several years.
  • County of Passaic: Passaic County, in conjunction with Wayne Township, will focus on a 193-acre site that was formerly the home to the Toys R Us world headquarters. In partnership with the township, the William Paterson University Small Business Development Center, Point View Wayne Properties and Dobco, the county, along with its partners, will hire a planning consultant to deliver an Adaptive Reuse Plan with a focus on the adaptive reuse of existing commercial structures.
  • Pemberton Township: Pemberton Township will fund a market study focused on the redevelopment of the former Burlington County College – Pemberton Campus. The study will provide recommendations for the development of the site with a dual focus on community needs and market demands.
  • Borough of Raritan: Raritan will conduct a preliminary investigation of the Raritan Mall site. The investigation will set the stage for the authorship of an Area in Need of Redevelopment Plan, provide information that will assist in proposed redevelopment studies and advance plans that will allow borough officials to reassess municipal zoning and planning ordnances in order to promote adaptive reuse of the mall site.
  • White Township: White Township will analyze the long-term viability and economic sustainability of White Township Plaza, a 1960s-era retail center with abandoned supermarket anchor that was a historically significant ratable for the township. The analysis and focus will combine a retail viability study, early-stage efforts to create an Area in Need of Redevelopment plan and a community engagement plan for the site’s future use.
  • Willingboro Township: Willingboro Township will execute an analysis of the Willingboro Grand Marketplace site, a former 1970s mall complex in a major commercial corridor, with an aim to identify sustainable, community-focused reuse. The analysis will include a marketing study, resident and stakeholder surveys, evaluation of potential reuses, economic feasibility analysis and conceptual design ideas for the property, as well as amendments to the township’s redevelopment plan.